With two nominations each, Welsh bass baritone Bryn Terfel, teenage New Zealand-born newcomer Hayley Westenra and composer/conductor John Rutter are equal leaders heading into the 5th annual Classical

With two nominations each, Welsh bass baritone Bryn Terfel, teenage New Zealand-born newcomer Hayley Westenra and composer/conductor John Rutter are equal leaders heading into the 5th annual Classical Brit Awards, to be held May 26 at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Terfel and Westenra are nominated in the respective male and female artist of the year categories, and their latest sets -- "Bryn Deutsche" (Grammaphon/Universal) and "Pure" (Decca/Universal), respectively -- are in the running for album of the year. Both Terfel and Westenra will perform during the ceremonies.

Rutter's "Distant Land" (UCJ/Universal), recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, is nominated in both the contemporary music award category and the ensemble/orchestral album of the year categories. Another leading contender is conductor Simon Rattle, whose "Beethoven Symphonies" (EMI Classics) with the Vienna Philharmonic is up for ensemble/orchestral album of the year and the critics' award.

Soprano Renée Fleming is this year's recipient of the outstanding contribution to music award, a gift of the British Phonographic Industry Council.

Nominations were unveiled during a party tonight (April 21) at London's Landmark Hotel, where soprano Katherine Jenkins and violist Vanessa-Mae performed.

Five of the awards will be voted on by the Classical Brit Awards voting academy, which comprises industry executives, members of the media and orchestra leaders.

Classic FM listeners will be invited to vote for the album of the year award, and a media panel will decide the winner of the critics' award. Voting takes place from April 26-May 7.

National British commercial TV network ITV1 will broadcast the gala on May 30. ITV news presenter Katie Derham will host the ceremony for the fourth successive year.

As previously reported, British financial-services provider National Savings and Investments (NS&I) will sponsor this year's event. All proceeds from the gala are donated to the Brit Trust charity.